Five Things to Keep in Mind for the Next Hurricane

August will go down as one of the most eventful weather/natural disaster months in Northern Virginia’s history.  While most people rarely think about their insurance, I’ll bet most of you asked yourself the question “Am I covered?” at least once during the past few weeks.  Fortunately, Irene’s bark was a lot worse than her bite.  But here are 5 things to remember for the next time a hurricane enters our area:

  1. Be Prepared.  In the event of a catastrophic claim, how great would it be to have pre-disaster video/photographs of your home to share with your insurance claims adjuster?  This is a relatively simple task to accomplish these days.  Spending an hour walking around your home taking video inventory of your personal contents as well as video/photos of your home will save you a ton of time scrambling for receipts to show your adjuster.  I even know of some professional video companies in the Northern VA area who will do the entire process for you for about $150.  Contact me for additional information.
  2. Know Your Deductible.  Most of you know that your home insurance policy has a deductible, usually $500 or $1000.  What you may not be aware of is that a few companies’ policies carry a much larger “Hurricane Deductible” which is a percentage of your dwelling coverage.  Example:  Your dwelling coverage on your home insurance is $400,000 and you have a 2% Hurricane Deductible.  This means that you’ll be paying for the first $8,000 worth of damage resulting from a hurricane.  Brace yourself…some policies carry a 5% deductible ($20,000).  Yikes.
  3. Know that Flood is Not Covered.  Most insurance policies exclude flood damage.  In order for this to be covered, you need to purchase this coverage separately through your insurance agent.  Coverage is available for your dwelling as well as contents of your home.  IMPORTANT:  Flood insurance typically carries a 30-day waiting period. So if you call your agent the day before the hurricane is arriving, you will likely be out of luck.
  4. Take Preventative Measures.  If you sustain wind damage and can safely prevent further damage from occurring through the use of tarps and covers, do it!  Save receipts from any materials used…most insurance companies will reimburse you.
  5. Don’t Forget About Your Car.  Assuming you have Comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy, you should be covered if the next hurricane knocks a tree over on your car.